Loeb and Sordo looking good for a one-two
The second day of the 2009 Rally Argentina has played into the hands of CitroŽn Total World Rally Team. After turning on the speed this morning, Sťbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena succeeded in taking control thanks to a faultless display over the South American roundís classic El Condor and Mina Clavero stages. Despite running first on the road today, Dani Sordo and Marc Marti are second overall this evening.

The second leg of the 2009 Rally Argentina was as long as the first and took crews southwest of Villa Carlos Paz to the notorious El Condor, Giulio Cesare and Mina Clavero stages which have long been highlights for the aficionados. The dayís menu comprised two identical loops of four tests stages before concluding with the weekendís second visit to the super-special at Cordoba Stadium.

Following the previous dayís rain, the stages were essentially damp, but that didnít prevent the World Championship pacesetters Sťbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena from making their mark. A faultless performance from the five-time champs saw them ease ahead after SS12 (El Condor-Copina) before checking into the lunchtime service halt in Villa Carlos Paz with a cushion of 7.3 seconds over Mikko Hirvonen. "Itís obviously easier when youíre not first on the road," admitted Sťbastien. "That said, I donít think the road-sweeping factor played as a big role as it did yesterday. The conditions were damp, and even muddy in places, but that suited me down to the ground and I was able to push hard enough to recover the lead. Our only problem this morning was a scare on the opening stage. I had failed to note a jump on a particularly fast portion and it caught me by surprise. Our CitroŽn C4 WRC took off in a big way but, happily, we came out of it unscathedÖ"

"We are only seven seconds clear of Mikko, so the gap is still quite small and we canít afford to lift," continued the French driver. "This afternoonís loop wonít be easy. The stages are quite twisty and the ground is fairly soft, so thereís a tendency for ruts to form and we wonít be able to profit from the full width of the road. Even so, itís always an impressive feeling competing in such lunar scenery in front of literally hundreds of thousands of spectators; there are times when you can actually smell their barbecues inside the carÖ"

Overnight leaders Dani Sordo and Marc Marti were third overall at the lunchtime break: "I canít say Iím disappointed. I expected this morning to be tough but I managed to stay on the heels of Seb and Mikko despite being first on the road. At the same time, I didnít have the benefit of their split times which would have given me an idea of how fast they were both going. Weíre only halfway into the event, so itís still too soon to be thinking in terms of lifting. I will continue to push as hard as I can."

Mechanical problems for Mikko Hirvonen during the afternoon saw the event take a different turn. The Finnís run came to a halt on SS15, leaving Sťbastien and Dani clear in front. After that, the two C4 WRC drivers made a point of not taking any unwarranted risks and ended up finishing the day in first and second places. "Weíve got a lead of a minute and a half over Jari-Matti Latvala, so itís looking pretty good," smiled Sťbastien this evening. "Sundayís stages arenít easy, but there are only 48km of competitive action remaining, so I think we should be able to control from in front."

"My intention is to hold on to second place," added Dani. "Latvala is only 40 seconds behind but I should hopefully be able to keep him at bay. Itís looking good for a one-two finish for CitroŽn, and that would be an excellent result for our World Championship chances."

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